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Race in Motion: Galvanizing Antiracist Praxis in Dance Studies

We plan to initiate a colloquium in critical dance studies that connects dance programs across the ACM to foster innovation in dance scholarship and pedagogy. Through six high-impact events with guest artist-scholars, we will create a forum for radically reconsidering our dance curricula, teaching models, and approaches to community engagement. We seek to imagine new intersectional programming that explores innovative models for integrating students across the humanities in order to engage all bodies who want to move in our dancing communities. Through an exploration of the physical body’s capacities for expressivity, we will synthesize artistic, somatic, and therapeutic modalities to advance an explicit connection between intellectual inquiry, critical self-reflection, artistic process, and innovation.

Addressing the changing needs of students and integrating current directions in dance praxis, we are committed to decolonizing dance studies on our campuses. As dance scholars and practitioners, we will advance our experiential approach to teaching and learning to both integrate and centralize liberatory pedagogies of the body. The aim is to collectively acknowledge complicity within our institutional systems, confront those practices, and design new curriculum that is intentionally anti-racist.


Over the past two decades dance studies has emerged as a thriving and robust scholarly field, with dance scholars actively developing innovative models for interdisciplinary research and implementing decolonial approaches to undergraduate education. While the establishment of dance research within the academy has expanded the faculty and diversified curriculum at large universities internationally, we recognize that dance programs at liberal arts colleges remain disproportionately small.

In the visioning of this initiative, we look towards the long-standing cross-campus partnerships between dance programs at other liberal arts college that exist in close proximity to one another, notably the Five College Consortium, Seven Sisters, Ohio 5, Quaker Consortium, and Claremont Colleges. Where these consortiums have historically sustained successful approaches to cross-campus enrollment for studio-based dance courses as well as annual in-person student dance conferences, we instead aim to engage the possibilities of virtual programming to link our campuses in ways have been previously inhibited by our geographic distance from one another. This will create ongoing connections not just for students, but for our colleges’ small individual faculty groups. In joining together through an ongoing partnership, we are committed to sharing our collective resources to expand opportunities for ourselves as dance scholars, practitioners, and educators.

We aim to provincialize dance studies in the Midwest by cultivating a dance faculty cluster among our campuses that collectively invokes the cross-disciplinary educational mission of the liberal arts college model in service of furthering dance research at our institutions and supporting the development of future dance scholars regionally.


We will host a colloquium of six virtual events in critical dance studies. Each event will include a public presentation by an artist-scholar, followed by remarks from a respondent, who will guide a conversation that emerges from the presentation then moderate questions from attendees. The series of public presentations will expand student learning opportunities in dance studies, emphasize cross-disciplinary research methodologies in the humanities, and cultivate innovative approaches to anti-racist praxis in the performing arts as teaching resources for undergraduate education. After the public events, the lead presenters will join ACM dance faculty in a virtual roundtable discussion on curriculum design, teaching, and learning.

Dissemination Strategies

The six public events of this initiative will be open to all ACM campuses. We will actively seek connections with faculty at consortium colleges beyond the project team, both in dance and among other departments across our institutions, to find new intersections within the humanities. The events will also be open to the broader field of dance studies, inviting attendance from the expanded higher education community.

The intention of this initiative is to create a sustainable model for an ongoing dance studies colloquium within the ACM that extends into future years and can be replicated at other liberal arts colleges. This grant will provide seed funding to fully support the first year of a cross-campus program that will expand faculty collaboration and initiate a continuously-expanding virtual resource collection for dance studies at ACM institutions.

Resources & Materials

This colloquium includes six keynote events with artist-scholars in critical dance studies. The events will be hosted on Zoom Webinar. This specific platform offers crucial functionality for our discipline, while also providing reliable documentary capacities and important accessibility to our students, colleagues, and the field. Each keynote speaker will be paired with a senior scholar as a respondent, who will be selected in conversation with the intended presenters:

Dr. Nyama McCarthy-Brown (Ohio State University): A community-engagement dance educator, McCarthy-Brown forwards innovative theories and impactful methods for culturally relevant pedagogy.

Dr. Shamell Bell (Dartmouth College): Bell’s research examines street dance movements in South Central Los Angeles through an ethnographic and performance studies lens.

Dr. Tara Rodman (UC Irvine): Charting the circulation of performers and performance forms between Japan and the United States in the first half of the 20th century, Rodman examines the ways artistic and social identities were formed out of discourses of national difference and politics of racial exclusion.

Dr. Jasmine Johnson (University of Pennsylvania): Johnson’s interdisciplinary work explores the politics of black feminisms through dance, diasporic travel, and gentrification.

Dr. Anurima Banerji (UCLA): A scholar, poet, and Odissi dancer, Banerji’s work in Indian dance histories is informed by an intersectional approach to postcolonialism, critical race theory, and discourses of class, regionalism, and religion in India.

Dr. Karyn Recollet (University of Toronto): A Cree scholar/artist/writer, Recollet studies Indigenous futurist thought, urban land relationships, dance making practices, and contemporary glyphing.

Each virtual keynote event will be recorded, and these recordings will be combined with readings and selected performance videos to create digital teaching resource capsules available to all ACM dance faculty. The intention is that these collected resources can be accessed across campuses for future dance and performance studies courses as well as student research and creative projects, thereby extending the colloquium beyond the real-time events of the series.

Outcomes and Significance

This initiative’s emphasis on facilitating ongoing roundtable conversations for ACM dance faculty will foster expanded connections across our campuses. Positioning our collective dance programs in extended dialogue, we will cultivate a collaborative approach to developing best practices in dance studies at liberal arts colleges and catalyze the implementation of an actively anti-racist dance curriculum at our institutions. Inviting artist-scholars from outside of our colleges to share their research and join us in discussion on current directions in dance studies and pedagogy, we will bring a diverse range of insight and expertise into our process. Beyond the events proposed for this grant, the project faculty are committed to collaboratively generating ongoing future programming. Our intention is to build a sustainable dance faculty network within the ACM that will extend the productive connections evoked through this initiative into future years while supporting a continuous reexamination of our dance curriculum and teaching.

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